Why are Jamaicans the fastest runners in the world?

That is one chapter in Orlando Patterson’s new and excellent The Confounding Island: Jamaica and the Postcolonial Predicament.  One thing I like so much about this book is that it tries to answer actual questions you might have about Jamaica (astonishingly, hardly any other books have that aim, whether for Jamaica or for other countries).  So what about this question and this puzzle?

Well, in terms of per capita Olympic medals, Jamaica is #1 in the world, doing 3.75 times better by that metric than Russia at #2.  This is mostly because of running, not bobsled teams.  Yet why is Jamaica as a nation so strong in running?

Patterson suggests it is not genetic predisposition, as neither Nigeria nor Brazil, both homes of large numbers of ethnically comparable individuals, have no real success in running competitions.  Nor do Jamaicans, for that matter, do so well in most team sports, including those demanding extreme athleticism.  Patterson also cites the work of researcher Yannis Pitsiladism, who collected DNA samples from top runners and did not find the expected correlations.

Patterson instead cites the interaction of a number of social factors behind the excellence of Jamaican running, including:

1. Preexisting role models.

2. The annual Inter-Scholastic Athletic Championship, also known as Champs, which provides a major boost to running excellence.

3. Proximity and cultural ties with the United States, which give athletically talented Jamaicans the chance to access better training and resources.

4. The Jamaican diet and a number of good public health programs, contributing to the strength of potential Jamaican runners (James C. Riley: “Between 1920 and 1950, Jamaicans added life expectancy at one of the most rapid paces attained in any country.”)

5. The low costs of running, and running practice, combined with the “combative individualism” of Jamaican culture, which pulls the most talented Jamaican athletes into individual rather than team sports.  (That same culture is supposed to be responsible for dancehall battles and the like as well.)

Whether or not you agree, those are indeed answers.  The book also considers “Why Has Jamaica Trailed Barbados on the Path to Sustained Growth?”, “Why is Democratic Jamaica so Violent?”, and a number of questions about poverty.  Amazing!  Those are indeed the questions I have about Jamaica, among others.

Recommended, you can pre-order here.


Jamaica was populated with West Africans & was the western most island in the British slave trade; a cruel Darwinian exercise which killed off all but the hardiest.

You didn't mention that it has also produced some of the world's best cricketers through the decades.

And did I mention the bobsled team?

Rugby League was introduced in 2006; last year the Jamaican side made the Rugby League World Cup after beating the USA.

It's almost as if you didn't read the part where genetic influences were ruled out. Imagine that, an MR commenter opining on something that they didn't even read.

"Suggests it is not genetic predisposition" = "ruled out genetics."


Proof that it is not due to genetics is that even the white citizens of Jamaica are amongst the fastest runners.... Oops, not true. Hmm! Maybe there is something to this genetics thingy after all. I guess then what would be the real reason that the authors were so emphatic that genetics played no part? I know! Let's ask Charles Murray.

If you don't rule out genetics, you get a visit from a bunch of black pol science professors averaging six feet tall equipped with baseball bats and room temperature IQs.

Therefore "ruling out genetics" is pro forma - the equivalent of crediting scientific advances to comrade Stalin, except that Stalinism was less inimical to truth and science, because not every scientific question became political, whereas these days even lattice chromodynamic calculations on quark gluon systems are political, and people are apt to discover they have implications for social justice.

The argument that ruled out genetic predisposition was laughably weak.

The words "Necessary but not sufficient" sprung to mind, reading what the author wrote. I wonder if they've ever heard that phrase before?

You didn't mention that it has also produced some of the world's best cricketers through the decades.

Actually the opposite seems to be true - if you look at the two world cup winning West Indies cricket teams - two of the greatest cricket teams ever in history - the 1975 team had 0 from Jamaica while the 1981 team had 1 from Jamaica.

Thus, this is rather in line with what the post says: " combined with the “combative individualism” of Jamaican culture, which pulls the most talented Jamaican athletes into individual rather than team sports."

I mean the 1979 team, not 1981. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1975_Cricket_World_Cup_squads#_West_Indies https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1979_Cricket_World_Cup_squads#_West_Indies

Chris Gayle is a household name in cricket playing nations. Courtney Walsh was arguably the worlds best fast bowler in the late 90's. With a population of less than 3 million people, i'd suggest Jamaica is punching well above it's weight in cricket. There are Indian provinces with populations 10 times that of Jamaica that have produced fewer test players.

I'm not buying “combative individualism” leading to individual sports over team sports line.

Aside from Cricket, Jamaica have the 4th highest rated Netball team in the world: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/INF_World_Rankings

Why are Jamaicans so good at Commonwealth sport? It's not because of proximity and cultural ties to America.

The question is why, relative to their population, are Jamaicans so good at sport? None of the answers are convincing.

You misinterpret - my comment is on Jamaica vs other constituents of West Indies, individual vs team sports.

It’s “... Jamaica HAS the 4th highest rated...” not “have.” Jamaica is a country, this singular requiring the singular “has” form of the verb.

Another example of the British not knowing how to speak English.

Rugby league pretty much doesn't exist in the US.

oh don't worry, that's true pretty much everywhere.

Thanks for that


How was it more cruelly Darwinian that being shipped to Brazil, though?

You are all wrong - it's the ganja man.


Relatedly there's controversy over those new Nike shoes giving an unfair advantage in races:


I don't think better shoes are unfair. A technological advance, but if you want tradition you'd have to go back to sandals .. or barefoot.

Ask the skippers in America's Cup

That's an interesting story. For a time the Cup was a 12 Meter race, under a design rule. That would be equivalent to every running with "design rule" footwear.

After various events, the Cup has ended up as an open race, and much technological progress has occurred.

It would've blown my young mind that there could be sailing hydrofoils going 55 mph.

"Why is Democratic Chicago so Violent?"

I indeed have that question!

Because it's Democratic.

I'm afraid doping is another important one. A country so small and then so proud of these previous successes has the incentives to constantly push for keeping success.

+1. There is loads of evidence for this theory. Easier for small remote countries to evade scrutiny.

Interesting though since we are specifically taking about championship medals here I’m not sure how that holds up since once you’ve reached that elite of a level you’re being drug tested out the wazoo.

Come on. You're talking about the IOC here. Everybody that doesn't acknowledge the PED angle hasn't been following this much. Not that Jamaica is the only culprit here of course.

I think this is a lot more likely explanation than the ones offered in the original post like "good diet," "good role models," which frankly strike me as complete crap.

Cricket, like baseball, is more of an individual game than a team game. It is batsman against bowler. Individual results are aggregated to give a team result. It is not a team game like baseball or hockey. And bobsled is all about an individual - the driver. The other one or three push briefly and the go for a ride.

I'd largely agree with Patterson's reasons, although I'd say that Nigeria isn't at all bad in sprinting, having won 5 Olympic medals in the two sprint relays. Nigeria is a great power in world sprinting, but it has lacked superstars to get it on the medal stand. Also, a Nigerian won the silver medal in the men's 100m in 2004, but he was running for Portugal:


I think Brazil's blacks mostly come from different parts of Africa (e.g., Angola and Mozambique) less conducive to 100 meters speed than Jamaica's and America's blacks. E.g., in 2003, a black Brazilian set the marathon world record, which is not something old stock American blacks are likely to ever do.

But Jamaica is healthier and better fed than Nigeria. The top Jamaican schoolboy and schoolgirl sprinters are recruited by American colleges.

My guess is that the surge in Jamaican medals since 2004 is due to:

A. Usain Bolt's individual uniqueness

B. American Olympic heroine Marion Jones went to prison over PEDs in 2005, so American runners became more cautious about their PED use, while Jamaican heroes haven't yet had to worry about being persecuted by their own government.

"What is that even supposed to mean?"

Michelle Obama is an old stock American black, descended from American slaves through all four of her grandparents. Barack Obama is not an old stock American black.

It's a useful term for discussing track performance tendencies. Old stock American blacks tend to be at their best from 100 to 800 meters, with Steve Holman a rare 1500 meter man. Blacks representing the U.S. who are world class at longer distances than 1500 meters tend to be immigrants from East Africa.

In the US most people consider "African-Americans" to be descendants of American slaves. Other blacks are Africans, or perhaps Jamaicans or Haitians or Cubans or Trinidadians. Obama isn't an African-American as generally defined, even by African-Americans. That's one of the strange things about the enthusiasm for his election in the US African-American community.

Meb Keflezighi, who won a silver medal in the 2004 Olympic Marathon for the US, is not an old stock American black. He was born in Eritrea.

Old stock American blacks win races from 100 to 800 meters, not marathons.

Probably true for Angolan ancestry. Though less true for Mozambique.

Another factor is most Afro-Brazilians tend to be more admixed than Afram (mostly European, some Southern Amerind) , and there actually aren't clearly as many of them proportionately, which probably reduces the population with a strong genetic advantage a bit as well.

Detail - "(https://www.biorxiv.org/content/biorxiv/early/2019/06/21/676437.full.pdf - "Sub-Saharan African ancestry was observed at high proportion in African-Americans (AfroAme: 69% and ASW: 74.1%) and Barbados (ACB: 87.1%), with relatively high contribution registered also for the other Caribbean and Brazilian populations (>10%; Figure 1B) In detail, “BeninNigeria” cluster showed the highest contribution (≥30% of the total) in African Americans and Barbados, while, in other Caribbean populations, the contribution of “BeninNigeria” and “GambiaSenegal” clusters is comparable with average proportion of 6.9%
(min=2.6%; max=11%) and 6.7% (min=3.6%; max=11.1%), respectively."

"In South America, all the analysed populations show high heterogeneity in African proportions, the highest values in individuals from Salvador (47.8%), possibly reflecting the high number of deported African slaves for sugar production in the Northeast area of Brazil in the 17th century . In details, the African cluster contributing the most is related to groups from Angola and Namibia (“AngolaNamibia” cluster), with Salvador (Brazil) having the highest percentage (>20%), similar to the contribution from “BeninNigeria” (~19%), mirroring the history of African slaves arrivals in Brazil. Although a non-negligible contribution from East and South-East Africa at the end of the Slave Trade period
has been documented, none of the analysed population samples showed an East African ancestry fraction larger than 2%. AfroAme and ASW show the highest proportion of this ancestry (1.2% and 0.8%, respectively).

I've seen it said, with how much truth I don't know, that many of the top black Dominican baseball players are descended from Jamaican immigrants who came over generations ago to harvest sugar cane and assimilated into Dominican culture.

Speaking of baseball, anyone catch the World Series game? Lock him up!! Hell yeah!

I was there. Even though I don't like the guy, I found it embarrassing. This is why we need a Queen.

This is the game Trump wanted to play. No rules, no propriety, no respect.

Cubans tend to do well in Olympic team sports, although that may have something to do with Fidel Castro's tastes in which sports to support. My general impression is that Castro was less cynical than many other Communist dictators about trying to pile up Olympic medals in easy sports like women's weightlifting (like China) or by methodical doping (like East Germany).

" easy sports like women's weightlifting"

The flabby cucks on this blog could barely lift a sandwich.

Easy in the sense of less competition. Hammer throw, handball, speed walking. Some sports have competitors from only a couple of dozen counties (15 countries is the Olympic minimum for inclusion). Sports like dressage cost so much that a government sponsored team might have a chance.

My high school chemistry teacher, Larry Walker, went to the 1976 Olympics in Montreal as, appropriately enough, a walker.

My favorite story about finding an easy way into the Olympics was about the college fraternity that heard about Team Handball being an Olympic sport in 1976 so they ordered a rulebook and learned how to play and the frat represented the USA in Montreal.

I love that. NBC would disagree, but it seems more likely to be a fun gathering of youth to foster international goodwill if there is a mix of games, some but not all of them requiring deadly-earnest "excellence," even doping, or a childhood spent being groomed to the exclusion of most else, or in the case of girls, amenorrhea.

He went on to be a star baseball player, also in Montreal.

Larry Walker the baseball slugger (not Larry Walker my chemistry teacher) is an interesting example of a fairly late sports change. He was focused on being an NHL goalie, but then late in his teen years, perhaps due to a birthdate late in the year, he got stuck on a bad junior team, so he gave up hockey and got serious about baseball and turned out to be pretty great at it.

"Cubans tend to do well in Olympic team sports"

What team sports does Cuba do well in, besides baseball? And Cuba's prowess in baseball is clearly connected to their interest in the sport (whereas AFAIK Jamaicans are uninterested in baseball), which is presumably due to Cuba's historic cultural connections to the US.

According to wikipedia, the other team sport that Cuba's won Olympic medals in is volleyball. Plus one in basketball. I know almost nothing about Cuban volleyball and basketball but my first guess is again the cultural connection to the US.

Cuba's volleyball heyday was in the 90's and it has long passed--at the last Olympics the men finished winless and the women failed to qualify. Their women's basketball program, also a 90's power, has similarly collapsed.

The West Indies have a pretty good record in cricket, although I gather they aren't spoken of with awe anymore like they were when I was young.


Impressive that you are this familar with this cricket! The eras of Worrell, Wolcott, Weekes, Sobers , Lar a, Hall&Statham are long gone. The west Indies team currently pales in comparision. The most famous of these are NOT Jamiacans.
Interestingly some of the sportsmen Bolt
admires most are cricketers like India's Sachin Tendulkar.

if you're talking cricket, Chris Gayle is a pretty famous and pretty Jamaican Jamaican....

6. The Jamaica Anti-Doping Commission is known to be a farce.

Everytime you point this out, you'll get the inevitable response along the line of "Why can't you just believe in excellence??" or some other "Outlier" theory.

PEDs or "sports science" and general corrupt organizations plays a huge part in this.

1. Preexisting role models.

This is often quite critical . Marathon runners in Kenya, Badminton players in Indonesia and Malysia, Chess Grandmasters in Inida ....An earlier world champion does really help motivate.

Jamaicans won a gold and 2 silvers in running at the 1948 Olympics in London, then 2 golds and 3 silvers at the 1952 Olympics. These were popular, well-publicized triumphs.

For some reason, Jamaicans didn't win any more medals until Lennox Miller won a 100m silver in 1968. He ran for USC and had set a world record in a relay in which he took the baton from O.J. Simpson. He became a dentist in Pasadena and his daughter Inger Miller won relay gold for Jamaica in 1996.

Can I just point out, though, that sprinting doesn't have quite the learning curve as chess, though?

It has a huge training curve though. Thousands of hours of painful dreary work. I suspect that chess training is less dreary and for sure it's less physically painful.

I saw an interview of Malcolm Gladwell where he claimed that when he was a teenager he was the third best sprinter in his age group in Jamaica. He and the other two trained furiously because they had visions of gold medals in their heads, realistic ones.

One day they had finished their last assignment for the day, running up a steep hill, and were back at the bottom exhausted. The other two boys said that they were going to do extra work: one more run up that hill.

Gladwell had joined them in those extra workouts in the past but this time he looked inside himself and, presumably having a good record in school and realizing that he had other life choices and possible careers than being a sprinter, decided that he'd had enough of that. He told the boys to go ahead and run up that hill, he was going home.

And that's the difference between the ones who become Olympians and those who do not. How much are they willing to work for it. Stamina, IIRC is what Tyler called it a few weeks ago. The Germans call it sitzfleisch, but the concept applies to running fleisch too.

Or just call it opportunity cost. Gladwell had other life options. Andrew Luck recently walked away before even reaching the peak of his NFL career; with a Stanford education and sports and business connections thanks to his father, he doesn't need to make a living by literally having his bones broken.

And of course as Anon says, pre-existing models and culture and all that. It's not genetics that makes the Cubans good at baseball and Americans lousy at the biathlon.

I rather had the impression Usain Bolt did little in the way of hill-running, but maybe that is just part of the legend.

My impression is that Malcolm Gladwell wasn't a schoolboy Jamaican sprinter, he was a schoolboy Canadian middle-distance runner.

Sprinters have to train extremely hard but not very long. Carl Lewis averaged 8 hours of training per week to get ready to win the 100m, 200m, long jump, and 4x100m relay at the 1984 LA Olympics.

Carl had time to combine his sprinting career with also being a star disco singer in Japan.

Top women sprinters tend to have amazing fingernails, in part because they have a lot of time on their hands.

They also marry male track athletes in high numbers, kind of like actresses and actors often fall in love on movie sets. Track meets, like movie shoots, are on a hurry-up-and-wait schedule conducive to flirting.

Carl Lewis was clear in 2008 that Jamaica's drug testing was insufficient.


Don't they get tested at the Olympics nd the World championships ? Sounds like sour grapes.

Yes, but they aren't tested out of competition, which means the in-competition tests are useless. The positive effects of steroids last for years, so you have to test constantly over a long time period.
Ultimately, it's all a joke. I've given up on professional sport.

Patterson's was the most thoughtful response to The Bell Curve. Christopher Hitchen's was the least.

"Patterson suggests it is not genetic predisposition, as neither Nigeria nor Brazil, both homes of large numbers of ethnically comparable individuals, have no real success in running competitions."

Maybe Brazilians have more important things to do.

Maybe survival of the fittest happens faster than we think.

There's a black Anglosphere bias to the men's 100 meters. E.g., gold medalists have included black Americans, Jamaicans, Trinidadian, Canadian and Brit. I don't know how much of it is cultural and how much of it is genetic. David Epstein's "The Sport Gene" (which had such a big impact on Obama) has some speculation that Anglosphere blacks come from a particular region in West Africa, where, he argues, malaria is particularly bad, so maybe there's a connection. I didn't find that part of the book hugely convincing ...

A certain proportion of Brazilian blacks are descended from slaves shipped out from Delgado Bay in East Africa (Mozambique), so my vague impression is that Brazilian blacks are more mixed between West and East African blacks. Plus more Brazilians came from Angola in the southwest of Africa, which doesn't seem to be prime 100m dash territory.

Just to reiterate, Canada's sprinters are largely Jamaican born n bred - or children of Carribean immigrants.
We don't have significant black slave descendant populations ( small one in Nova Scotia) outside of Carribean (largely Jamaican) immigrants.

Brazilians are known to be mudh more interested in intellectual, practical and spiritual affairs than in frivolous sports.

Is obsessively trolling MR an intellectual, practical, or spiritual affair?

And no I'm not mistaken and yes it is you.

Brazilians can run fast when they are fleeing paramilitary police death squads. So I have been told. Or perhaps they are too busy being excellent at the national game of futebol, as they call it.
Long lower legs relative to upper legs, relative to body weight, seem to have something to do with success in sprints.
Why have Brazilians not succeeded in boxing with a a few notable exceptions (primarily Eder Jofre, to a considerably lesser degree, Popo). Answer: Brazilians don't like getting punched in the face. It is more pleasant to kick a little ball on a field to the acclaim of millions.

Brazilians have been very successful in mixed martial arts. Anyway, Brazilians prefer more spiritual pursuits.

"Brazilians can run fast when they are fleeing paramilitary police death squads."

There are no police death squads in Brazil. No Fergusons either.

Just to add to this nurture vs nature argument here somewhat: its important to remember that from Canada (Donovan Bailey & Ben Johnson) and UK (Christie) were also all Jamaican born and bred.

Surely there are more cases in both countries.

De Grasse is Barbadian and T &T but Toronto born and bred...

Yes, role models is at the top of the list. Consider African Americans: why do so few pursue baseball as the primary sport? The role models play basketball and football. Sure, there are lots of black athletes who play baseball, but they are from Central and South America and the Caribbean islands. But no sport is dominated by a single nationality the way women's golf is dominated by Koreans. Do Korean women have an innate talent for swinging a golf club? I don't think so. And it's spreading to China, as more and more young Chinese females are playing golf at a very high level. Do Korean and Chinese families belong to expensive golf clubs and pay for expensive golf lessons? No, the young females who show the greatest promise are groomed to be future stars by a system that is funded directly or indirectly by the government. Women's golf is so popular in Asia that 13 of the 32 LPGA tournaments are played in Asia.

Yesterday (today) Tiger Woods won his 82nd PGA Tour title in a tournament played in Japan, the first PGA tournament ever held in Japan. The crowds were enormous, 20 deep in most places on the golf course. And the player who came in second, Hideki Matsuyma, is Japanese. The PGA Tour shifted its schedule this year, moving the schedule up so that the season ended in August, in large part to accommodate more tournaments in the Fall to be played in Asia.

Yes, role models is at the top of the list. Consider African Americans: why do so few pursue baseball as the primary sport? The role models play basketball and football.

That's true today but it wasn't true 50 years ago. Baseball was full of black stars--Henry Aaron, Frank Robinson, etc.--and basketball and football were full of white stars. If role models determined who went into a sport, baseball would be a lot blacker today, and basketball and football would be a lot whiter.

Women's golf is dominated by Koreans because there has been a giant women's golf fad going on in South Korea and among the Korean Diaspora since the late 1990s. It's easy for one country to take over a sport that doesn't naturally appeal much to girls. In men's golf, there are lots of guys around the world who obsess over the game, so Koreans haven't come close to dominating.

In contrast to women's golf, I'd say men's sprinting is close to a sporting contest that virtually every male in the world tries at some point in his childhood at least in informal settings. The ones who do well there then try formal sprints, and so on up the hierarchy until you get to the Olympic Finals with 8 black guys staring each other down, the gun goes off, and ... Usain Bolt wins again and picks up another $100 million in endorsements.

None of these are convincing. For the most convincing argument read David Epstein's The Sports Gene: Inside the Science of Extraordinary Athletic Performance.

Hi Tyler,

thanks for the book recommendation, interesting story. I thought it would be worthwhile to note that Jamaica had the highest number of Olympic medals per capita in the 2016 Rio Olympics. (Grenada and Bahamas have actually higher number, but agree that the population is much smaller in those countries therefore the numbers are slightly distorted).

The all time Summer Games per capita figure is the highest in Finland (#2 Sweden, #3 Hungary). That is also a very interesting story - like in the case of Jamaica and other outliers, it is a result of a superposition of many factors.

Right, which points to something important: most commenters here are assuming that the superiority of Jamaicans or Caribbeans is an unalterable fact to be explained. When in reality they've been prominent in sprinting since only the last half of the 20th century.

If Jamaican sprinters where inherently superior, why weren't they winning gold medals at the 1936 Olympics? And are you so sure they will be winning gold medals at the Olympics 50 years from now?

When the NBA started, Jewish players were wildly over-represented in the league relative to their population.

The top elite athletes represent a tiny fraction of the population of the world and the extreme right hand side of the distribution of talent. Social, cultural, and genetic analysis of humans is probably more meaningful for populations than individuals. Are Jamaicans as a population faster than other groups? Perhaps these stellar people are distributed by some stochastic mechanism. I don’t think that Germans are unusually good at music, but there was a Beethoven, a Bach, a Wagner.

My hot take from the cheap seats is that it seems to be that nations excel in the sports where there is a confluence of cultural affinity and logistical appropriateness, to which a program of money, developmental infrastructure, and the right driving personalities are applied.

I believe a bit of Gladwell's Outliers is at play here. i.e. what factors led to the fastest Jamacian's gravitating to running, versus, say, playing wide receiver in high school football?

Because American football is only played in the USA?


Pretty sure that's not due to genetics.

Athleticism and physiology are ruthlessly genetic. Nice try.

The fact that the sport is bug in Jamaica is a big factor but also, because Nigeria is still too poor for enough people to reach anything close to their potential. Look how many Nigerians are in the NFL and NBA in relation to the Nigerian American population.


Large parts of the developing world have a poor developmental environment which stunts high end potential. With wealth, comes better environment, selection, and training. We can see this in the steady climb of China up the medals table...

The fact that African ancestry does so well across sprint despite poor environment underlines their advantage here.

Do Korean women have the golf gene? I suspect Cowen threw out a piece of raw meat so the could watch the spectacle. And a spectacle it is. Of course, in America stars of trash tv become billionaires and president while America's self-styled intellectuals debate the genetic predispositions of black people (on the athletic field, in the classroom). The evidence seems to point to the stupid gene among many white Americans.

Golf is fairly generalist. A lot of different builds and temperaments can do well at it, so it's more a matter of golf being a big deal in S. Korea. Physiology is a very large component of sprinting though.

The evidence seems to point to the stupid gene among many white Americans.

Yes, intelligence has a large hereditary component. But I don't think comparing intelligence metrics between racial and sub-racial groups will get you the result to confirm your anti-white bias.

I don't think it's all genetics, as all those other circumstances certainly make a difference. Yet it is striking that there are no successful Jamaican long distance runners (just as it's curious how Kenyans do much better in distance events.)

Many of the theories posed for advantages in running would seem to apply equally to sprinting and distance running. Yes, there's a specialization effect that may put the best athletes in the country's best events, but countries also make some effort to diversify (and diversifying makes it easier to make the Olympics for your country.) It's easy to see why the best athletes going into football and basketball may make a soccer team worse than to see how this works for sprints versus medium vs long distance running.

Speed and endurance are different things (as is strength), so genetic explanations have a lot more salience when talking about very "pure" events like track and field, especially when a group does very well in one sort of track and field event but not in others.

Other sports take more of a combination of speed, endurance, and strength (along with technique, which is true in any sport), and competitors can excel through different combinations of those traits, and there's a lot more overlap between people who might be great at one sport as opposed to another. So for most sports we would expect a strong cultural component as to whether a country excels there or elsewhere.

"Patterson suggests it is not genetic predisposition, as neither Nigeria nor Brazil, both homes of large numbers of ethnically comparable individuals, have no real success in running competitions"

At the very least, genetic predisposition (including at the individual level) may be a necessary component for setting a world record, but it is not sufficient, as all those other sorts of factors surely help as well.

"Patterson suggests it is not genetic predisposition, as neither Nigeria nor Brazil, both homes of large numbers of ethnically comparable individuals, have no real success in running competitions. "

It's almost impossible to believe there is not some West-Indies or West African genetic factor at play after spending 5 minutes looking at Olympic results. Do no white or east Asian nations have the right "culture" to win? Despite better wealth and nutrition?


There is clearly a genetic component. To state otherwise would be as foolish as looking at the evidence and claiming Australians don't have a genetic advantage at swimming.

Prior: "it's not genetics because xyz" is suspect. Usually shallow points and ignorant of how genetics / population works.

Jamaicans aren't the same genetics of the mixed grand kinds long gone emigrated relatives.

1) emigrated do mix up. You don't have plenty of pure Jamaicans abroad. Only mixtures. Which might eliminate any complex body genetics.

2) genes might not suffice. So you need Jamaicans genes and eat + exercise of and sorts.

3) sub groups in Jamaica are totally ignored.
Might be gene constellations of mountain folks, or some areas.
Might not have as many emigrants of those
Emigrants will have mixed up with other Jamaicans too so removing even more specific genes.

Anti genetics is such an entrenched religion that the updated Bayesian evidential Vanessa must be adjusted

Because they were once a British colony.

#6. The availability of marijuana, which apparently makes exercise more fun. https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/08/well/mind/exercise-marijuana-cannabis-pot-workout.html

This topic of why certain groups in various parts of the world seem to produce elite athletes was researched and written about in great depth by Rasmus Ankersen in The Gold Mine Effect. There are several factors that play into it including the 10,000 hours rule, role models, desire to succeed based on limited alternatives, coaching, mindset of a winner, etc. Ankersen studied the Jamaican sprinters as well. If you really want to understand the "why" better, check out the book, it is pretty revealing.

Oh really, you actually have to state that it's not genetic. How racially inverted, reactionary, and sad.

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